OSR Interested in dipping my toe into OSR but don’t know where to start. Any recommendations?


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Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Yeah, that’s definitely all stuff I want to incentivize. But, I’d also like some tension between paying for equipment, hirelings, etc. and paying for levels. It’s a dynamic I really like in Soulsborne games and would like to bring into my tabletop RPGs.
I've managed to keep my PCs spending the piles of cash they accumulate by the following:

1. Offering basic Potions of Healing for sale at the abbey in the base town, at 200gp each, with random amounts of them available between adventures. At higher levels/less frequently I also make Neutralize Poison (Mithridate) available at 1000gp a shot.

2. Offering 1st to 3rd level MU scrolls for sale from the local wizard who works for the Baron, and keeps his apprentices steadily scribing. 200gp for a 1st level, 750 for 2nd, 2000 for 3rd, with random spells on offer at any given time (they specifically don't sell Charm Person, though, to forestall problems in town).

3. Later, once they make more connections, other things to spend cash on will also crop up. NPCs who sell poisons, other interesting potions, treasure maps/adventure hooks, etc.

4. Regular living expenses. Every month of game time I have them pay 1% of their xp total in GP, just for cost of living. Training, clothing, equipment upkeep, rent, nostrums, medicines, bribes, etc. This rule is actually taken from OD&D.

5. Hirelings! Extra members of the party are very useful in B/X. I tend to have them work for a third to half share of treasure, and give each NPC retainer who actually goes into the dungeon (as opposed to a flunky who just tends the mules and stays outside) a half share of XP. Note that by the book in B/X / OSE NPC retainers take a FULL share of XP but only actually get half of it for themselves. The other half goes to waste. I think this is an annoying disincentive and prefer to just have them take a half share.

6. Allowing them to gain bonus XP by carousing, Conan/Fafhrd & Grey Mouser style. I think Jeff Rients was the first person in the OSR to popularize this, back in 2008*. Basically, once after each delve, I let the adventurers blow a bunch of cash partying/celebrating, splurging on wine, company, song, fancy foods, etc. Roll a d6, multiply by 100 to see how much gold you spend, but you get that full amount as bonus XP! This is a bit more generous than Jeff's original system, where you have to make a Save vs Poison to actually get the xp, and a fail results in some humorous or interesting complication. I still have them make the save against a complication (because those can be fun to play out), but guarantee them the XP. In Jeff's system you have to move to a bigger town or city to roll a bigger die and spend more; because in my game I've kept them primarily with the same base town, I've let them increase die size as a function of level- reasoning that they make more connections and get access to pricier booze and stuff. At 3rd level I let them choose to use either a d6 or d8, and at 5th they get the option of a d10 instead.

*Party like it's 999
Reddit expanded carousing table
 
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Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
I think encumbrance is absolutely mandatory for classic dungeon crawling and expedition play. Having to decide between security of supplies and amount of treasure to carry on one hand and travel speed (thus amount of random encounters) on the other hand is a key component of the exploration gameplay loop that does a good deal of the work to create tension.

The easiest system I've found is this:
Light load (20'): Items equal to Str
Medium load (30'): Items equal to Str x2
Heavy load (40'): Items equal to Stry x3
Single items smaller than daggers don't count for encumbrance. Items that need two hands to carry count as 2 items or more. 100 coins are one item.
(Mage spellcasting and most thief skills can only be done with light load but are unrestricted by armor.)
And to be fair, OSE DOES offer a simplified version of encumbrance as well.

Basically, speed is determined by your armor type (light, heavy, or none), modified by "are you carrying a bunch of treasure?" which is purely up to DM judgement.

If you use the more complex system it does ask you to track itemized encumbrance based on Coin weight (10ths of a pound).


There are a lot of slot-based systems out there as well, like Yora has indicated, which are meant to kind of split the difference. Don't make people count every last coin, but round it a bit. I think Lamentations was actually the first published system to popularize this approach, but it's a popular house rule. 5 Torches Deep's is roughly: Everyone can carry their Strength score in items before being slowed down, where heavy armor counts as 5, light as 2, a two-handed weapon or object 2, a one handed weapon, quiver of arrows, shield or sack of 500 coins 1, and any random object roughly around head-sized/5lbs treat as 1. Small stuff like potion bottles, scrolls or daggers or such generally get 10 to make up 1 Load.

I agree with Yora that ideally you want the system to be pretty simple, but to mean there are trade-offs and meaningful choices, and the players understand that when they're loaded down with stuff they move slower/prompt more random encounter checks.
 
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OSE Slot based encumbrance

Many OSR rulesets come in A5 format. The smaller size is easier to use at the table for many people
 


payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
I’m a strong proponent of encumbrance, but sometimes it can be like pulling teeth to get players to actually track it. A slot-based system or something streamlined like PF2’s Bulk would probably be ideal for me.
I have found the resource tracking and collecting system of Forbidden Lands from Free League to be one of the best. The game has a real old school feel, but does deviate a little from the specific D&D experience. The setting is also hard to swallow because all the races hate each other and such is rather disturbing in the write up. So, i'd recommend looking at the system, but maybe jettison the setting.
 

Jack Daniel

dice-universe.blogspot.com
If there's a game that should be regarded as the universal entry-point into the OSR, it's Basic Fantasy RPG, a B/X clone with a handful of key tweaks (ascending AC, no alignment, no race-classes, no level limits, and an XP system that isn't so stingy with awards that come from sources other than treasure). It's a good starting point because all the PDFs (and there are so many — core rules, options and supplements, adventures and campaigns) are free, all the print copies are print-at-cost and available dirt-cheap (so that you can dip your toe in the pond and see if you like it before you commit), and the community/forums are really helpful.

And if you find that even BFRPG doesn't feel "authentically" D&D enough, it's easy to move from BFRPG to another game — the same author's Iron Falcon retro-clone (which is based on LBBs + Greyhawk), or Labyrinth Lord, or Old School Essentials, or Swords & Wizardry, or the actual old D&D editions.
 

Yora

Legend
Basic Fantasy is definitely another good option. For a long time I found it to be the best original style version of B/X that doesn't make me deal with the weird TSR attack roll system. And I did appreciate it for having class independent races.
But on both points it has been replaced by OSE Advanced for me.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
If there's a game that should be regarded as the universal entry-point into the OSR, it's Basic Fantasy RPG, a B/X clone with a handful of key tweaks (ascending AC, no alignment, no race-classes, no level limits, and an XP system that isn't so stingy with awards that come from sources other than treasure). It's a good starting point because all the PDFs (and there are so many — core rules, options and supplements, adventures and campaigns) are free, all the print copies are print-at-cost and available dirt-cheap (so that you can dip your toe in the pond and see if you like it before you commit), and the community/forums are really helpful.

And if you find that even BFRPG doesn't feel "authentically" D&D enough, it's easy to move from BFRPG to another game — the same author's Iron Falcon retro-clone (which is based on LBBs + Greyhawk), or Labyrinth Lord, or Old School Essentials, or Swords & Wizardry, or the actual old D&D editions.
Basic Fantasy is definitely another good option. For a long time I found it to be the best original style version of B/X that doesn't make me deal with the weird TSR attack roll system. And I did appreciate it for having class independent races.
But on both points it has been replaced by OSE Advanced for me.
Well, both have free versions available, so I’ll be sure to give them both a look!
 

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